Tuesday Morning News Roundup
Program Starts For People With Traffic, Some Misdemeanor Arrest Warrants To Avoid Jail Time During The Holidays
Through the end of December, people in Santa Clara County with arrest warrants for non-violent misdemeanors and traffic tickets will be able to get a new citation and court date with no threat of arrest, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office and police departments of all cities in the county are participating in the annual program Operation Second Chance through Dec. 31, sheriff’s Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup said.
Over the past 10 years since the program started, more than 2,800 people have participated and avoided doing jail time over the holidays in December by self-surrendering, Stenderup said.
Those with arrest warrants may go to any of the city police stations in the county, to sheriff’s headquarters at 55 W. Younger St. in San Jose or the sheriff’s south substation at 80 W. Highland Ave. in San Martin, to turn themselves and obtain their new citation, Stenderup said.
The citation will include a new court date for which each individual must promise to appear, he said.
The program is directed toward warrants for most misdemeanor crimes, no matter what the bail amount is, including those stamped with “No cite and release” and “No bail,” but there are notable exceptions, according to the sheriff’s office.
Felony crimes are excluded from the program, as are misdemeanors that involved violence, such as warrants for domestic violence, and any warrant pertaining to the use of a firearm, resisting arrest and giving false information to a police officer, sheriff’s officials said.
Police departments taking part in the Operation Second Chance this year include Campbell, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto.
Most of the police departments will accept self-surrenders generally during daytime hours, but sheriff’s headquarters on Younger Street will accept self-surrenders 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Dec. 31, according to the office.
State Sen. Mark Leno Proposes Raising State Minimum Wage To $13 By 2017
With cities across the Bay Area approving minimum wage hikes at the ballot box, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is proposing upping the state minimum wage to $13 by 2017.
Leno introduced legislation Monday that would raise the state minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2016, to $13 in 2017 and begin annual inflation-based adjustments in 2019.
Under current law, the state minimum wage will increase $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016.
The minimum wage in some Bay Area cities is already set to rise more than that. Last month, Oakland voters approved a minimum wage hike to $12.25 effective in March and San Francisco voters approved a gradual rise to a $15 minimum wage in 2018.
The Berkeley City Council also enacted an ordinance this year to raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.53 on Oct. 1, 2016.
A statement from Leno’s office Monday lauded the local efforts, but lamented that a quarter of California residents live in poverty.
“Raising incomes for millions of Californians will reduce poverty and provide them a better shot at the American Dream,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said in a statement. “Senator Leno’s measure will make sure this opportunity is real for all of California’s minimum wage workers.”
Board Of Supes To Vote On Fiscal Plan To Help Save Hospital
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is set to vote today on a key aspect of a last-ditch to save the financially embattled Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo from imminent closure and restore services at the hospital.
The board will vote on two financial relief measures today that would delay a $3 million property tax payment owed by the hospital to the county while permanently waiving $9 million in future repayments, according to county staff documents.
“I wanted the county to step forward as the first stakeholder to commit to closing DMC’s financial deficit and hope that this action encourages other stakeholders to do the same immediately,” said County Supervisor John Gioia, who authored the debt relief resolutions along with Supervisor Federal Glover. “We don’t have much time,” he said.
DMC spokesman Chuck Finnie said the hospital’s current financial situation is “dire,” and estimated that without the county’s support, the hospital would likely only have enough in reserves to stay open through the first quarter of 2015.
If passed, the measures would be a critical component of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District’s financial plan to restore emergency services at the hospital and prevent it from closing for at least five years.
District officials announced the five-year, eight-point “5×8 Plan” last month as the district continued to grapple with quickly dwindling funding reserves and mulled different strategies to prevent the hospital’s closure and to bridge its annual $18 to $20 million budget gap.
The plan relies not only on the county support but also on a mix of other revenue including financial support from area hospitals, a June 2015 parcel tax measure, increased charitable donations to the DMC Foundation, reimbursement payments from a new training and residency program at the hospital, employee savings and a one-time $15 million payment pledged by the city of Richmond from a community investment package from Chevron.
The hospital has struggled to stay afloat for years due to a mix of mostly low-income Medi-Cal and Medicare patients. It filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and has received more than $35 million in funding from the county since 2006, according to county officials.
The Board of Supervisors meeting is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. today in the Board Chambers in the County Administration Building at 651 Pine St. in Martinez.
New Storm Front Could Bring 4 Inches Of Rain Starting Tuesday
The puddles are still drying from the weekend’s rain but more wet weather is expected in the Bay Area starting early this morning.
By the time the sun rises today rain is forecasted to have started in a storm expected to last into Thursday and bring up to 4 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
The most rainfall will come in the coastal mountains, with 2 to 4 inches predicted and up to 5 inches in the Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia mountains.
Lower-lying urban areas will see less rain, with 1 to 2 inches forecasted, but will cause wet roadways and potentially hazardous driving conditions.
There may be isolated thunderstorms and hail in coastal areas. Most of the rain is expected today and Wednesday.
The storm will also cause some strong winds, particularly in higher elevations, which may knock down trees and power lines. There is a risk of some minor flooding in lower elevations, particularly urban areas, places with poor drainage and near small creeks.
Larger rivers are not expected to see any flooding, as drought conditions persist in California. While this week’s storm will help, it will not solve the years of water deficits in the state.
To help residents cope with the short-term flooding, sandbags are available for pickup from some city and county agencies.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office has sandbags for pickup at the West County Detention Facility at 5555 Giant Highway in Richmond; at the Ambrose Recreation & Park Center at 3105 Willow Pass Road in Bay Point; at the Senior Center at 215 Second St. in Oakley; at County Public Works at 2475 Waterbird Way in Pacheco and at the Howe Homestead at 2950 Walnut Blvd. in Walnut Creek.
Residents picking up sandbags must bring their own shovel and fill the bags themselves. Bags and sand are provided.
The city of Oakland is also providing up to 20 sandbags and plastic sheeting to residents who need them. They can be picked up at the Municipal Service Center at 7101 Edgewater Drive and the Drainage Services Facility at 5921 Shepherd Canyon Road. Some fire stations are also providing up to five sandbags.
To minimize impact from the rain, residents have also been asked to prepare by making sure gutters, curbs and storm drains are free of debris and that waterways such as streams are free of obstructions.
Jury In Police Corruption Case To Begin Deliberating Tuesday
A federal jury is due to start deliberating today in the corruption trial of two San Francisco police officers accused stealing money and property during searches in 2009.
The case of Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, of Pleasant Hill, and Officer Edmond Robles, 47, of Danville, was put in the hands of the jury by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer late Monday after a day of closing arguments.
The two men, who formerly worked as plainclothes officers in the Mission District of the city, are accused of conspiring to steal money and property during five searches in San Francisco and Newark in 2009.
They are also charged with defrauding the citizens of San Francisco of their honest services between 2008 and 2012, wire fraud, conspiracy to violate civil rights and conspiracy to distribute drugs.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hemann told jurors during his closing argument, “A police officer has a duty provide law enforcement to the citizens of San Francisco.
“Instead of doing that, these defendants got in bed with these informants and they committed crimes and did it over and over again,” Hemann alleged.
Defense attorneys attacked the credibility of prosecutors’ chief witness, former officer Reynaldo Vargas, 46, of Palm Desert, who pleaded guilty to four charges shortly before trial and agreed to testify against his former colleagues.
The largest of the alleged thefts was a purported $30,000 haul, which Vargas testified he dug up while he was alone in the backyard of a suspected drug dealer’s house in Newark on May 25, 2009.
Vargas said he divided the money equally with Furminger and Robles as they drove back to San Francisco. The San Francisco police officers had been assisting federal drug agents with a raid on the house and prosecutors allege that Furminger interrupted a vacation to join them.
Defense attorneys argued there was no proof, other than Vargas’s allegations, that the $30,000 ever existed or that Furminger or Robles received any of it.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Rodney Villazor contended during the prosecution rebuttal that other evidence corroborated Vargas’s testimony.
Records showed that Robles deposited $6,000 in cash in his bank account the next day and also bought a bicycle for $3,700, Villazor said. He said evidence showed that Furminger, who allegedly told Vargas he would spend his share on skylights for his house, did buy skylights.
Furminger and Robles were suspended without pay from the department after being indicted in February. Vargas was fired in 2012 for falsifying timecards.
Three Protesters Are Charged With Looting Store
Prosecutors on Monday charged three men with second-degree commercial burglary for looting the Smart & Final store in downtown Oakland early last Tuesday morning in a protest following the decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson.
The three men were arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland late Monday afternoon at a hearing that was attended by a large group of supporters.
Large protests were held in Oakland last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson, who is white, for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, who is black.
Police arrested at least 135 people in the protests, which included the temporary closures of several freeways and vandalism at many businesses but the three men are the only people charged with felonies so far.
The three men are 51-year-old Tony Casey, 25-year-old Davontae Smith and 26-year-old Shawn Gatison.
Casey is being held in custody in lieu of $635,00 bail and Smith is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail as well as a no-bail hold on an alleged probation violation. Gatison is free on $70,000 bail.
Oakland police said in probable cause statements for the three men that undercover officers saw them forcing entry into the Smart & Final store at 933 Broadway shortly after midnight last Tuesday and saw Smith and Gatison leaving the business with various goods.
Officer Bryan Pong said officers saw Casey leave the store with a garbage bag full of liquor.
Pong said officers tried to stop Casey but he immediately dropped the bag, destroying the liquor bottles, and ran westbound on Ninth Street.
He said officers chased Casey and apprehended him nearby without incident.
Officers who searched Casey found more liquor bottles in his backpack, Pong said.
Oakland police Chief Sean Whent said last Tuesday that protesters who stole bottles from the Smart & Final store used them to throw at officers.
Oakland civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, who finished fifth in the crowded Oakland mayoral election last month, said he came to court Monday to represent several protesters who had been arrested during the protests and held in custody over the long Thanksgiving weekend but none of them were charged.
The trio is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Dec. 8 to enter pleas.
Police Chief Says 79 Arrested During Black Friday Protest Prompted By Ferguson Decision
Seventy-nine people were arrested and five police officers were injured in San Francisco on Friday night during a demonstration held in reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri for the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said Monday afternoon.
Suhr said a group of demonstrators began assembling at about 5 p.m. on Friday at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building, while another group gathered at about the same time in the center of Union Square prior to the Macy’s tree-lighting ceremony.
The combination of Black Friday shopping and the annual tree lighting ceremony brought throngs of visitors and locals alike to Union Square that evening.
Suhr said the group at Justin Herman Plaza started marching up Market Street to Union Square, facilitated by police officers.
When the demonstrators who had arrived from Justin Herman Plaza reached the southeast corner of Union Square, they attempted to break through a barricade and then through a skirmish line of police officers at the intersection of Stockton and Geary streets, Suhr said.
While officers in riot gear were able to stop the protesters from reaching the tree-lighting ceremony, some of the protesters began throwing rocks and bottles at the officers, according to Suhr.
Thousands of people, including families with young children and elderly persons, filled the streets surrounding the square and when demonstrators began smashing windows, many of the bystanders began running away from them, screaming.
The demonstrators then headed to Market Street, where the first of five officers was injured. Suhr said the officer was struck in the head and back by a construction sign and suffered soreness to the neck.
This was captured in a YouTube video and showed another officer who attempted to go after the person who threw the sign.
That officer then tripped and suffered abrasions to the hands and legs. The officer was rendered immobile and suffered a finger injury, Suhr said.
Officers ordered the crowd to disperse and arrested those who assaulted the officers.
The protesters then headed west on Market Street and into the Mission District.
At 24th and Alabama streets, protesters again started throwing bottles and rocks at officers, Suhr said.
Some of the protesters headed to 24th and Mission streets where there were reports of windows being broken.
Two more officers were injured as they were responding to the intersection.
One of those officers was seriously injured when he was struck in the face, just under his nose, by a tequila bottle that was thrown through the closed window of the police car he was in.
It required four stitches to close the wound and Suhr said it remains unknown whether that officer will be permanently disfigured or if he requires further surgery.
That officer’s partner was struck by a large rock, also thrown through a closed police car window.
Officers arrested multiple people there following the attacks, as well as a person attempting to steal electronics from a nearby RadioShack.
Suhr said police were able to arrest the group, bringing the total number of arrests for the night to 79 people.
Suhr said a fifth officer suffered a laceration to his hand during an arrest and sought treatment.
Police gathered evidence on Liberty Street, including bricks, rocks, an unbroken tequila bottle, a chain with a padlock, black face coverings, and a knife.
The chief released the names of the 79 protesters Monday, with the exception of six juveniles.
Suhr said the conduct at Friday’s protest was criminal and conducted by a “fringe element” that he said appears to embed themselves in peaceful protests before acting out.
No vandalism arrests have been made at this point, despite windows being broken at a Bank of America, a McDonald’s and a RadioShack, in addition to shops damaged at Union Square, Suhr said.
He said police are canvassing the area and asking for any additional videotape or surveillance footage that could help the department identify and prosecute suspects.
Suhr said that inevitably more protests will occur in the future and that body-mounted cameras could help prosecute those who choose to attack officers.
Police Seek To Arrest Man, Woman Seen On Video During Home Burglary
Police in Sunnyvale are seeking a man and a woman suspected in the burglary on Friday of a Sunnyvale home after police recognized them from images in a home surveillance video, a police captain said Monday.
Fernando Ricardo Angeles, 34, and Carrisa Barreto, 36, both of Sunnyvale, are suspects in the burglary last Friday of a home in the 900 block of East Duane Avenue, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Capt. Jeffrey Hunter said.
Both suspects are on probation and have warrants for their arrest, according to Hunter.
The resident of the burglarized home had installed surveillance cameras inside that captured the suspects stealing property before fleeing, police said.
The quality of the video was good enough for police officers to recognize Angeles and Barreto, Hunter said.
Detectives working the case are asking anyone who sees the suspects or know where they are to call 911 and provide as much information as possible, but do not confront the suspects or attempt to apprehend them, he said.
Those with information about the case may contact the department’s investigations unit at (408) 730-7120, police said.
Deputies Looking For Trailer Park Shooting Suspects
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a drive-by shooting in the Mirabel Trailer Park in Forestville on Monday morning.
Deputies responded around 11 a.m. to a report of a person in a vehicle shooting at a residence in the trailer park at 7600 River Road, Sgt. Cecile Focha said.
The person who reported the shooting said the suspect might be a female tenant who recently was evicted and left the trailer park in a newer silver sedan on westbound River Road, Focha said.
The woman in the vehicle had dark hair and was wearing a blue and white sweater, and the driver was a bald-headed black man wearing a grayish-blue muscle shirt, Focha said.
Three trailers were hit by gunfire and three shell casings were found, but no one was injured, Focha said.
Deputies identified Alicia Bixenmann, 23, as a person of interest because she moved from the trailer park a few days before the shooting, Focha said.
Detectives contacted Bixenmann at a Rohnert Park residence and determined she was not involved in the shooting, Focha said. She was arrested on a warrant for battery on Santa Rosa police officers, resisting arrest and public intoxication, Focha said.
Deputies have not recovered a gun and the shooting suspects, who are considered armed and dangerous, have not been located, Focha said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office’s tip line at (707) 565-2185.
Coast Guard Tows Disabled Sailboat To Moss Landing
U.S. Coast Guard crews towed a disabled sailboat back to shore after its sails became tangled and then its engine failed about 56 miles southwest of Monterey on Sunday.
Crews responded at 1:19 p.m. Sunday after receiving a report from Coast Guard Station Monterey about a 45-foot sailing vessel that was adrift after becoming disabled.
Coast Guard officials said Saturday night’s storm caused lines and sails to become tangled in the boat’s propeller.
The boat’s crew was able to untangle the fouled propeller and shaft before Coast Guard crews arrived at the scene and the boat was on its way to Moss Landing but then its engine failed.
The Coast Guard then towed the boat the rest of the way to Moss landing, arriving early Monday morning.
There were no reported injuries during the incident, according to the Coast Guard.
Police Dog Inhales Cocaine During Search
A police dog is back on duty in El Cerrito after inhaling a small amount of cocaine during a suspect search last week, police said Monday.
An El Cerrito police K-9 named Koda and its handler were called around 11:30 a.m. last Wednesday to assist in a traffic stop on a car near the El Cerrito-Richmond border, according to police.
Police said during a search of the car, Koda found a small amount of a substance believed to be cocaine and inhaled some of it.
The dog was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic, where it tested positive for the presence of a stimulant, according to police.
The animal was treated, recovered and was able to return to full duty the next day.
Police said an occupant from the car where the narcotics were found, identified as 29-year-old Mone’ Sellers of San Pablo, was arrested.
In a statement, police said that “while every effort is made to ensure the safety of the canines, the discovery of suspected drugs can lead to this situation.”
El Cerrito police said Koda, one of two K-9s used by the department, is cross-trained in handler protection, searches and drug detection.
Fire Captain Injured, Two Residents Displaced In Fire
A San Jose fire captain was hospitalized and two people were displaced Monday by a fire that gutted a garage and caused smoke and water damage to a home in Campbell, a fire official said.
Santa Clara County and San Jose firefighters both responded to a call at 8:11 a.m. about a fire at the home at 1667 Villarita Drive, according to county fire Battalion Chief Kendall Pearson.
The fire was extinguished by 9:15 a.m. but caused a San Jose Fire Department captain to go to a hospital, where he was admitted as a precaution with minor injuries, Pearson said.
One of the two residents of the home had noticed the fire burning in the attached garage and wisely opted to call firefighters rather than attempt to douse the blaze on their own, Pearson said.
During the fire, the roof of the garage collapsed and firefighters had people evacuated from the homes on either side of the burning house, according to Pearson.
No one else was injured in the fire and investigators combed through the badly damaged garage in search of evidence of what may have caused it, he said.
The two residents of the house were displaced and were assisted by the American Red Cross to find a place to stay, he said.
City Gives Homeless 72-Hour Notice To Vacate ‘Jungle’ Camp
A project team on Monday began posting 72-hour notices about the closure of the “Jungle,” a homeless encampment where about 200 people reside at Coyote Creek south of downtown San Jose that is considered unsafe and unsanitary by officials, a city spokesman said.
The team, made up of employees of San Jose city and Santa Clara County departments and non-profit service providers, plan to start cleaning the homeless camp of structures, debris and waste on Thursday, a process that will take about two weeks, according to city spokesman David Vossbrink.
The closing and clearing of the camp, next to the creek off of Story Road between Interstate Highway 280 and Kelley Park, has been in the works for 18 months and about 130 people have already moved out over the past six to eight months, Vossbrink said.
The city recently received a regulatory notice from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to put a stop to human and other unsanitary waste from the Jungle that is polluting the creek, which carries water that ends up in the San Francisco Bay, Vossbrink said.
The city also has statements from police and anecdotal accounts about crimes, including violence, drug dealing and prostitution, going on at the camp, where police cuffed 15 people who had arrest warrants during a sweep there in October, Vossbrink said.
The population of the creek is estimated at 200, although it changes daily as people leave and are replaced by new residents, he said.
Ray Bramson, the city’s homelessness response manager, was at the Jungle on Monday morning talking to residents and letting them know that authorities will begin to clear the camp on Thursday if weather permits.
About 50 camp residents agreed to move Monday and the city intends to transition all of the camp’s dwellers into decent housing, Bramson said.
For those who will be evicted from the Jungle, the city has housing vouchers for them to stay at local hotels and motels, while others can go to cold weather shelters the county opened last Friday that have about 275 beds throughout the county, Vossbrink said.
The city, which has appropriated $2 million to permanently house homeless individuals from San Jose, is also going to offer transportation for the homeless to their new homes, according to a report issued Monday by city housing director Leslye Corsiglia.
At the Jungle camp on Thursday, the city’s plan is to send employees of the housing department to offer housing services, San Jose police to help with security, traffic control and clearance work, city environmental services workers to manage biological waste removal, parks, recreation and neighborhood services to provide rangers at the site and public works employees to provide services for animals there, Corsiglia said.
After the camp is cleared, a group called Watershed Protection Team, a partnership between the city and the Santa Clara Valley Water District, will regularly patrol the cleared camp and elsewhere on Coyote Creek, the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek to clean up litter and prevent illegal camping, she said.
The city has already started installing boulders to thwart vehicle access to the Jungle area and 1,500 feet of eight-foot-high steel fencing along the western and eastern banks of Coyote Creek to block access to it from Story Road, according to Corsiglia.
Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Fatally Stabbing Uncle
Vallejo police arrested a man early Monday morning on suspicion of killing his uncle.
Eduardo David Jr., 27, was arrested for allegedly stabbing 37-year-old Billy Adolph during an altercation at their home in the 100 block of Prestwick Court, Vallejo police Capt. James McConnell said.
Police responded to the altercation at 12:10 a.m. and found Adolph unresponsive in the backyard of the residence, McConnell said.
Adolph received medical aid but was pronounced dead at the scene, McConnell said.
David was booked into Solano County Jail on suspicion of murder, police said.